Author Topic: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018  (Read 44376 times)

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #400 on: March 20, 2018, 06:36:24 AM »
@4alpacas - one thing we do is bulk grill chicken breasts. (My husband marinates them all day in some sort of secret sauce that involves pureed onions, garlic, & spices). He grills them, and then after they are cool, we bag them into meal size portions & freeze them. Because the protein is already cooked, dinner comes together really quickly. Here are a few things we do with the chicken:
-Chicken soft tacos
-Grilled chicken on salad
-Grilled chicken w/pasta. Great w/pesto & tortellini

I take pretty much any recipe that includes cooking chicken, & just sub our chicken in. I make homemade chicken taquitos, baked chicken pasta dishes, chicken risotto, etc.

4alpacas

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #401 on: March 20, 2018, 08:57:01 AM »
4alpacas, I have not personally used these recipes but some look really good and easy!

Sheet pan recipes: https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/sheet-pan-supper-recipes/view-all/

Foil packet dinners: https://www.southernliving.com/dinner/foil-packet-dinners-for-fall#sausage-potato-green-bean-foil-packet-dinners-for-fall

Crock pot dinners: http://www.easybreezyrecipes.com/Crockpot.html
I love the idea of the sheet pan recipes!  Easy, and great to have the oven on to heat the house a little :) 

@MaybeBabyMustache That's a great idea.  I could freeze some of the shredded chicken we make.  Usually, I just freeze uncooked chicken or complete meals. 

kaypinkHH

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #402 on: March 20, 2018, 11:53:27 AM »
@4alpacas I love making meal plans! Shoot me a PM with your allergies/DH's pickiness/constraints and I can shoot you some ideas!! I try to balance frugalness, with healthy choices as well as easy to cook meals.

Not sure if you are on the meal planning thread, but that has a lot of ideas too! https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/meal-planning-2018/

I typically do some bulk freezer cooking on the weekends for days where we just don't want to cook, but then mix it up with some more "fresh" easy weeknight meals.

Food spend wise so far this month- Groceries are out of control, BUT: We have been stocking our freezer, technically we could probably get through a month with minimal grocery spend (which is the plan for May when baby HH arrives)...but in good news so far: 0 in fast food, 0 at coffee shops, and only $45 at restaurants!!! WHAT!!!! I'll update ya'll with final numbers in 11 days!


LessIsLess

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #403 on: March 20, 2018, 02:20:13 PM »
Before you eat, do 20 push ups, every single time.  Your grocery budget would drop like a rock, and you'll have some muscles to show for all that eating.  Can't do the push ups?  Sorry, no food for you!

4alpacas

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #404 on: March 20, 2018, 03:00:32 PM »
@kaypinkHH PM sent!  You're so thoughtful!  I'll check out the meal planning thread.

@LessIsLess Before every bite or before every meal?  If it's just before every meal, I'm set ;)

ohsnap

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #405 on: March 21, 2018, 12:07:03 PM »
In looking at YTD grocery spend, I might be on to something:
(this is for 2 people, sometimes 3 as one of our adult kids usually spends weekends here)
1. January $270 (this included one Costco trip for $120)
2. February $402 (this included two Costco trips for $197)
3. March 1-21 $72 (no trips to Costco yet).

Hmmm.  I really feel like the stuff I buy at Costco is at best per-unit prices.  But is it actually reducing my overall grocery bill, or increasing it?  I do purchase "impulse buys" like the stupid box of pre-cooked beets I found in the produce department in Feb.  I just opened the first pack of those yesterday and realized dh and I will need to eat beets every day for 3 days to finish it before it goes bad.  Oh, and the frozen curry dish that I bought "because it would be cheaper than going out" but it's languishing in the freezer after several months.  Maybe I'll challenge myself to ONLY buy what's on my list and see how that affects my grocery bill.  Right now we're about out of cashews, cheddar cheese, and canned tomatoes, and I know I can't find those cheaper elsewhere.  Let's see if I can stick to it.  (or maybe don't buy cashews...if we don't have those on hand, we use much cheaper peanuts)

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #406 on: March 21, 2018, 12:23:18 PM »
Costco makes a lot more sense for us after I started sticking to the list.  I also try not to go more than once a month ... about the time we run out of cheese, chicken, and cereal.

Laura33

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #407 on: March 22, 2018, 08:32:43 AM »
In looking at YTD grocery spend, I might be on to something:
(this is for 2 people, sometimes 3 as one of our adult kids usually spends weekends here)
1. January $270 (this included one Costco trip for $120)
2. February $402 (this included two Costco trips for $197)
3. March 1-21 $72 (no trips to Costco yet).

Hmmm.  I really feel like the stuff I buy at Costco is at best per-unit prices.  But is it actually reducing my overall grocery bill, or increasing it?  I do purchase "impulse buys" like the stupid box of pre-cooked beets I found in the produce department in Feb.  I just opened the first pack of those yesterday and realized dh and I will need to eat beets every day for 3 days to finish it before it goes bad.  Oh, and the frozen curry dish that I bought "because it would be cheaper than going out" but it's languishing in the freezer after several months.  Maybe I'll challenge myself to ONLY buy what's on my list and see how that affects my grocery bill.  Right now we're about out of cashews, cheddar cheese, and canned tomatoes, and I know I can't find those cheaper elsewhere.  Let's see if I can stick to it.  (or maybe don't buy cashews...if we don't have those on hand, we use much cheaper peanuts)

FWIW, I had the same realization myself and ended up dropping Costco.  A lot of it was my own self-control (or lack thereof).  When I go to the regular grocery store, I can do my list (the app lists them aisle by aisle), pick up what I need, and go.  But at Costco, their offerings are always changing -- so I'd make my list, but then see all these other things that weren't there last time that seemed like an awesome deal and throw that in, too.  And then half the time they wouldn't have everything on my list (or offered it in such quantities that I knew we'd never eat it all), so I'd end up going to the regular store, too.  And instead of spending $200 at the regular (expensive) grocery store, I'd spend $200 at Costco and $100 at the regular store.  So for me, the better dollar-per-unit price was more than offset by my inability to control my impulsiveness when presented with a deal. 

I wasn't exactly happy to discovery that about myself.  :-)  But no one is perfect, and as the poster at my gym says, success is the result of controlling failure.  So I stick to regular stores now because they pose fewer temptations (or even better, ALDI, where there are many "what a deal!" temptations, but they actually are ridiculously cheap, so I can buy some treats and still pay less than $100 total).

Roadrunner53

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #408 on: March 22, 2018, 08:46:35 AM »
Laura33, have you tried shopping Costco on line? You can place an order and control your impulses. My Costco has same day delivery (Instacart) and 2 day delivery that they ship to you. I just got an order yesterday delivered by UPS. I have not tried Instacart yet. If you reach certain minimums they will ship or deliver for free. I need to go to Costco soon to cash my Visa Rewards check. But during the year I order stuff. Costco is about 15 miles from me and not a million miles away but I hate driving and fighting the traffic. When I do go it will be a haul and my car will be filled to the brim!

4alpacas

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #409 on: March 22, 2018, 09:18:24 AM »
Laura33, have you tried shopping Costco on line? You can place an order and control your impulses. My Costco has same day delivery (Instacart) and 2 day delivery that they ship to you. I just got an order yesterday delivered by UPS. I have not tried Instacart yet. If you reach certain minimums they will ship or deliver for free. I need to go to Costco soon to cash my Visa Rewards check. But during the year I order stuff. Costco is about 15 miles from me and not a million miles away but I hate driving and fighting the traffic. When I do go it will be a haul and my car will be filled to the brim!
My DH and I are also horrible impulse shoppers.  However, Costco is a winner for us with dog food alone (then you add in dog treats, and we're golden).  We use Google Express, which provides free delivery for non-perishables for orders over $35 (which is a single bag of dog food).  We also occasionally get 20-25% off coupons, which I use to stock up on dog treats and buy an extra bag of dog food.  I haven't set foot inside a Costco store in several years.  We also pay to have a groceries delivered because we can't be trusted in regular grocery stores.  The grocery delivery fees are face punch-worthy, but we have zero impulse control when it comes to "exciting" new products and stuff that we think we need.

I'm going to go over my planned spending for March because @kaypinkHH gave me an amazing meal plan!!!  I'm going to give it a go and do a bulk cook on Saturday. 

Thank you, @kaypinkHH

Roadrunner53

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #410 on: March 22, 2018, 09:26:21 AM »
If you meet certain minimums, they ship for free! I will kill myself to get free shipping. There is always something we can use! Even Walmart will give free shipping. I have been known to be a dollar short to get free shipping but by damn, I will find something for a dollar or two to get free shipping! LOL! Chapstick, a box of tissues, a bar of soap! LOL!

The only downside of getting deliveries is the cardboard boxes. Hub is always breaking them down for recycling! Maybe if you have a fireplace you can burn them!

kaypinkHH

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #411 on: March 22, 2018, 09:27:47 AM »
Haha @4alpacas, yes, this will bust the budget most likely!!! (Sorry haha).

That is one bad thing about mega cooking/bulk meal prep, it can be hard to keep a monthly grocery shopping on track...however, mathing it out most of the meals I make are ~$3/serving, especially if I buy meat on sale ahead of time and chuck it in the freezer for later use. Trick is to have a running inventory of what is there so nothing goes to waste.

I modified the meal plan I sent 4 alpacas slightly to be more generic and now you can all see the link :).
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DGOPmLigiCBMZxmbWq6yFATp6TyFakbcsGT180yp0h4/edit?usp=sharing

4alpacas

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #412 on: March 22, 2018, 10:16:44 AM »
Haha @4alpacas, yes, this will bust the budget most likely!!! (Sorry haha).

That is one bad thing about mega cooking/bulk meal prep, it can be hard to keep a monthly grocery shopping on track...however, mathing it out most of the meals I make are ~$3/serving, especially if I buy meat on sale ahead of time and chuck it in the freezer for later use. Trick is to have a running inventory of what is there so nothing goes to waste.

I modified the meal plan I sent 4 alpacas slightly to be more generic and now you can all see the link :).
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DGOPmLigiCBMZxmbWq6yFATp6TyFakbcsGT180yp0h4/edit?usp=sharing
I'll probably spend about $100 (including all of my extras), so it would fit into a normal month budget.  However, we bought a bunch of packaged foods earlier in the month. 

Even so, if I can increase my grocery bill and decrease eating out, then I'm in for it!

Laura33

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #413 on: March 22, 2018, 08:01:18 PM »
@RoadRunner/4alpacas:  Coincidentally, I did check out Costco online just last month.  Since my prior Costco efforts, I have discovered Amazon Subscribe & Save for most household products and OTC medicines.  So I compared the prices from both sites on the things I usually buy, and it was basically a wash - some were a little higher or lower, but it balanced out to a degree that surprised me.  So between that and ALDI for truly low-priced groceries (not in massive quantities, either), I feel like Iím at the ďgood enough for nowĒ point.

4alpacas

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #414 on: March 23, 2018, 05:01:21 PM »
$314/$200

We really destroyed the budget this month.

I received our grocery delivery this evening, so I decided to get a jump start on cooking all of the recipes that @kaypinkHH outlined.  I made the egg roll caserole and the brown rice.  I'm working on the pesto with peas recipe right now. 

Tomorrow I'll tackle the rest of the list! 

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #415 on: March 25, 2018, 07:35:51 PM »
We were $17 over. I have no idea what my husband bought last time he went to Costco, but it was $60 over our normal bill. So, that's pretty much that. We're still doing better than last year (or, previous years). We're done shopping for March, so I'm happy we got it close. I know we can do better, though.

Laura33

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #416 on: March 26, 2018, 06:18:18 AM »
Not as good this week, but not horrible -- $72 groceries (more than I anticipated given that DH/DD are out of town as of Thursday, but I forgot I needed Passover stuff), plus $15 for snow-day bagels for the kids.  Which brings the should-be-final monthly total to $565 groceries, $160 HH, and $148 takeout.

Of course, $200 of that is attributable to my NYC splurge, so I'd say my "normal" spend is reasonably on track.  Just have to work harder on planning better for leftovers and getting the takeout more under control again -- am becoming too fond of the pizza-and-ice-cream place two blocks away. :-)

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #417 on: March 26, 2018, 08:22:26 AM »
I'm mostly pleased with us.

My goal is $125/week.  For the first four weeks in March, we've spent $416 -$84 under budget.  We're hosting the family for Easter next weekend, so I'll have to go to the store again on Saturday, but I'm confident I'll still be under $125.

Our eating out, on the other hand, is over $250 for the month.  We've had to throw away some food, so it isn't that the grocery bill is artificially low because we eat out, but we eat out in addition because....lots of reasons.


Roadrunner53

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #418 on: March 26, 2018, 08:41:16 AM »
Not to be preachy, but can you take one weekend day and get help from spouse to whip up some stuff to have in your freezer so you can avoid take out? You can even freeze spaghetti and rice. I have cooked meatballs, cooked ground meat, cooked cheeseburgers, cooked chicken breasts, breaded fish patties, frozen veggies and hamburger rolls in the freezer. I also stock up on chicken pot pies when on sale. On a night when I am not in the mood there is plenty to pull out of the freezer. There is always grilled cheese sammies and soup and frozen pizza. Tuna sammies are good too with lettuce and tomato.

Hub buys a big box of hamburgers and will cook up six or 8 at a time and add cheese. I wrap them up individually and freeze. Only takes around a minute from frozen to hot in the microwave.

We buy big packages of hamburger and whip up meatballs and bake in the oven, drain the grease, then freeze. So many meals you can make with them. We will also cook up ground meat with onions, drain off grease, place in vacuum bag or ziplock and freeze flat. I have bags of spaghetti sauce with hamburger frozen. If you freeze spaghetti, rinse with cold water and drain well, then add it to a ziplock and add a good splash of olive oil, toss, then seal and freeze flat.

Hot dogs and beans are good now and then too!

Just some ideas to help you out.

I had some waste the other day and should have frozen it. Made a lentil soup type thing and it made a lot. I ate it probably 4 times and hub once. I had a lot leftover and bleh, didn't want anymore so tossed it. I do not like to waste food but sometimes enough is enough!

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #419 on: March 26, 2018, 09:33:04 AM »
For us, the problem tends to be lack of planning when we're out.  I usually have a few frozen or canned things we can whip up when we're busy at home.

I blame half of this month on volleyball.  We went to the first volleyball tournament and didn't bring snacks.  The tournament was running hours late...so by the time it ended we were starving and still an hour from home.

The next tournament we coordinated the other parents to bring a picnic, but the instructions weren't clear so some only brought enough for the kids, not for the parents to share....so out again.

The other half of the the overage is social occasions with friends.  There's been a lot of celebrating lately.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #420 on: March 26, 2018, 10:01:13 AM »
Perfectly understandable when you are away from home it is hard to plan.

How about this idea. Buy some cold cuts like ham, cheese and turkey breast. Bring along hard rolls or a loaf of bread. Some mustard or a small jar of mayo. Bring some chips, fruit and have each kid make their own sammie. Towels and paper plates, knives forks and some cups for seltzer with a splash of juice. Pack in an ice chest and go! Hand sanitizer too!

Here ia another 'outrageous' idea! Here is a crockpot thing you can plug into your car outlet and warm up something for dinner! Chicken, rice and peas. Hot dogs and beans. Chili. https://www.amazon.com/RoadPro-RPSL-350-Quart-Slow-Cooker/dp/B0013IR88A

I would probably warm up leftovers rather than trying to cook raw meat. Like cooked chicken meat mixed with rice and peas and cream of mushroom soup. Costco has this canned roast beef that is REALLY GOOD! You could make a barbeque beef and put on buns. It comes in chunks. You could throw some frozen meatballs and some spaghetti sauce and bring some grinder rolls.

Okay, I am a Debbie Downer...

Eating out is fun too!




MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #421 on: March 26, 2018, 10:27:13 AM »
@formerlydivorcedmom - our kids play in a lot of soccer tournaments, so totally understand. Until we got the hang of it, we definitely ate out more than normal. Here are a few things we do:

-Always pack meals, even if it appears we won't need them. Something regularly comes up, so we have the food handy. If for whatever reason you don't need them, you can always eat the food at home.
-Bring lots of snacks, & water.
-If there is a kids meal planned out as part of the tournament, the adults still pack food. In fact, my youngest still prefers pasta in a thermos over pretty much anything else, so we'll get him a snack, so he can be part of the group, but then he eats the rest in the car.
-Buy gift cards to Subway/Panera (the two most common tournament eat out options for us) at a discount for an emergency
-We also plan quick & easy freezer meals for when we get home, because that can be another budget killer

It gets easier with more experience! :-)

zeli2033

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #422 on: March 30, 2018, 02:03:37 PM »
Sigh. This month was a hot mess. I have no excuse - we just stopped trying and and reverted back to old, lazypants behavior. Our food spending hit $1,056 - $256 more than the budget for the month. Eating food out hit $339. Ugh...it's painful even writing it out.

At least we can say it honestly wasn't fun. We are ready to recommit to the goal for April.

Laura33

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #423 on: March 31, 2018, 12:39:12 PM »
Not as good this week, but not horrible -- $72 groceries (more than I anticipated given that DH/DD are out of town as of Thursday, but I forgot I needed Passover stuff), plus $15 for snow-day bagels for the kids.  Which brings the should-be-final monthly total to $565 groceries, $160 HH, and $148 takeout.

Of course, $200 of that is attributable to my NYC splurge, so I'd say my "normal" spend is reasonably on track.  Just have to work harder on planning better for leftovers and getting the takeout more under control again -- am becoming too fond of the pizza-and-ice-cream place two blocks away. :-)

Well, I should know better than to count chickens before Iíve bought them all.  Between some grocery stuff I forgot and me getting sick and DH reverting to takeout, my numbers ballooned to $604 groceries, $160 HH, and $210 takeout.  Blerg.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #424 on: March 31, 2018, 01:14:07 PM »
Laura33, you always make me smile when I read your posts!

It is just the Hub and me and we don't really try to stick to a budget. I know I am being sacrilegious but I try to shop smart and pick up the bargains as they become available.  I don't stress out on trying to stick to a dollar amount per month and once in a while we splurge. Hub had some excellent lab results which we were pretty stressed out about till the doctor told us they were as good as they could get. We celebrated by eating lunch out and splurged big time! But we are back on track eating cheeseburgers, tomorrow will be Chicken Teriyaki in the crockpot and eggplant parmesan the next night. Nothing exotic!

Picked up boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.99 a lb. for the Chicken Teriyaki. It is a jumbo family pack so we will eat several meals on it and probably freeze the rest for sammies later on. Package was around $8 so will make many meals!

I feel that if you buy the bargains and use your food up and not tossing the leftovers in the garbage you are being frugal to a certain extent. Eating out is expensive and our celebration lunch, with generous tip cost us $75. We each had two alcoholic drinks which is the kiss of death on eating out. I didn't care!

We are retired and rarely eat out so when we do, it is a splurge we enjoy!

Any chance you can get your Hub on board by asking him to take over some cooking for the family? Maybe if he feels more responsibility, he might take it more seriously and stop take out stuff!

Take care, hope you feel better!

kaypinkHH

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #425 on: April 02, 2018, 07:36:10 AM »
Another month done, and this one I'm calling a success!

According to Mint:
Groceries~ $600
Restaurant*~ $126
Coffee Shops/Fast Food- $0!!!
Alcohol and Bars- $0!!!

My goal this month was to cut the out of the house food spending, due to all my meal prepping, we were able to avoid a lot of quick runs to pick up food.

*Out of the house food spending:
- Thai food take out with my parents- Goal for April is to learn some quick and easy thai food recipes to replace the need for take out.
- Sugar shack breakfast with Mr.HH. Not needed per-say, but $40 well spent. Lovely seasonal local food, and we menu hacked to get a better deal on our breakfast (split some orders etc.)

My parents paid me back for the 1/2 the thai food in cash, and I figure we spent that cash on the following food items:
- Beer (6.50), Pop (4.50) and Fries (6) at a hockey game (beer and pop not needed, fries 100% worth it haha).
- 1 Coffee (2.30) during travel forgot a travel mug, could have been avoided :(
- 1 Ham and Cheese Croissant from a local bakery for lunch one day when errands took longer than planned, only $3.20, yes could have been avoided, but for $3.20 I'm not going to worry about it too much.
- $10ish thrown in to order pizza with a group at a party, way easier than packing our own dinner.

Normally I don't track cash items, but it is cool to get to a point where we are spending out of the house so infrequently that we can track to that level!

We still could work on reducing our grocery spend more, but we are shopping the sales, stocking up on cheap meats, and doing meal prep, so I still think the grocery spend will level out in May/June. Considering this month we hosted people at our house 3 weekends, traveled 1 weekend, and had a house warming party, overall not too bad!

(I pivoted my tracking table attached, the other way made no sense).
 
« Last Edit: April 02, 2018, 07:55:42 AM by kaypinkHH »

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #426 on: April 02, 2018, 08:13:08 AM »
I budget $125/weekend for groceries, and there were 5 weekends this month.  That means we could have spent $625...but the real grocery spend was only $599! This included about $60 of pure, unnecessary, quite tasty junk food (I should not be allowed to go to the grocery store with kids when I'm sick), as well as the costs of Easter (hosted 5 relatives for dinner + candy for the kids).

I really wonder now how the heck I ever managed to spend $200/week at the grocery store - consistently!

Eating out added up to an additional $252 this month - $70 was husband's work lunches/vending machine purchases that I have given up lowering.  $45 was me eating out with friends (twice my budget), and the rest were family meals or treating the kids to lunch. It's actually lower than I thought it would be (we were worse at the beginning of the month), but still too high.

frooglepoodle

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #427 on: April 02, 2018, 08:40:24 AM »
Spent $602 on groceries last month. My April goal is also to be in the ballpark of $600, including restocking the freezer with Instant Pot/crockpot meals, plus pay our CSA fee for the season ($650 for a 6 month season, starting mid-May). My hope is that the ~$110 per month for the CSA will offset more than $150 of other grocery spending for the season.

Some new-to-me recipes I'm looking forward to trying this month:
Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal
PB&J breakfast bars
Spinach & artichoke quesadillas
Tuna risotto pie

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #428 on: April 02, 2018, 08:45:06 PM »
March totals for a family of 4, including 11 & 12 year old boys. Both play sports 4+ days/week, so have a big appetite:
Groceries. Budget was $625. Spent $642
Dining out. Budget was $150. Spent $130

We can do better on groceries, still. We didn't throw much of anything away, meal planned, made & froze leftovers, etc. But, things add up. I have a few ideas for April to start trimming.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 07:38:31 AM by MaybeBabyMustache »

Novik

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #429 on: April 03, 2018, 07:21:09 AM »
March totals - no idea, haven't added it up yet, but expect in the 350-400$ range, so fine.

April is the start of the one income budget though, with a 350$ cap on groceries (or 80$ a week to account for 5 weekend months). And yesterday we shopped for three big meals and acquired many staples for 74$*, so that's a win right there!

Hope to be able to keep this up going forward... I think it will get easier as my partner will have more time to make bread, hummus etc.

(*I feel I should admit I did use 20$ in PC points, but that was to pay for the OTC drugs @ 17$ incl tax... so even adding the 3$ back in we're ok)

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #430 on: April 03, 2018, 07:37:00 AM »
March totals were:

Groceries $300, actual was $330
Restaurants $30, actual was $42...I went out a few times this month, which is unusual...going through a breakup, it was good to have some friend support and a little wine, haha!

I did pay my upfront fruit CSA fee this month, which was $315, but I don't count that in for this months groceries since it separates out by the week.

I'm actually happy about this, because just 3 months ago I was spending $500-$600 a month on groceries, without even realizing it! I'm just one person, but I love buying local and organic food, and sometimes impulsively shopping at the little health food store in my neighborhood, when I feel like trying a new recipe. It has been really hard to get it down in the $300s, but I'm stoked! And I think I'll be able to do even better in the Summer, when fresh produce is easier to come by. I live in a super high cost of living area, in a tiny town...so for example, a pound of apples (doesn't matter what kind), not even organic, is regularly $1.99/lb...organic is like $3.99! Onions, potatoes, etc are never under $1.00/lb, and eggs are $3.99. So it is a struggle to get it down to those super low numbers I see everyone else quoting. But, I'm working on it!

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #431 on: April 03, 2018, 12:47:37 PM »
March was SO bad. I'm genuinely embarrassed about it. I'm not even sure I can bring myself to share the ghastly numbers. I know it's still down from a two years ago, but we ate out a TON.

April will be questionable: we leave Friday night for an 8 night trip in Europe (trying not to freak out too much about the rail strike since we'll be in Paris; so far our trains are not canceled). I plan to enjoy myself there and not worry about it too much, although I will track our spending. When we get back from Europe I will be getting serious about meal planning and a much healthier diet so we'll see how the month turns out.

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #432 on: April 04, 2018, 05:52:14 AM »
Update: Iíve got our grocery spending for the two of us consistently well under $200 (plus $100 for Vega One meal replacement shakes for breakfast), this is as good as I can get it without starting to compromise on quality or variety. I used to be a chef, so I like to make really really good food, so Iím not willing to cut further.

I would have to start reducing fresh veggies, fresh herbs, and cheese, which are the main sources of flavour in my cooking now. I do have some dirt cheap dishes that require not much more than cabbage, rich and chick peas, but I like a lot of variety and have 50+ vegetarian recipes in rotation. I try to balance the costlier recipes with cheaper ones each week.

I feel like Iíve pretty much optimized as much as I can. We could probably keep the entire budget ~$200 if we switched to something like eggs or oatmeal for breakfast instead of the expensive breakfast shakes, but Iím just not willing to do that. Itís the only thing that can keep me full for 6-7 straight hours. I donít get breaks at work, thereís no option to have a snack between 6am and noon or 1pm.

So yeah, I think weíre done in terms of cutting grocery costs except that I might talk DH into starting a herb garden in the summers.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #433 on: April 04, 2018, 06:29:37 AM »
The only other thing you might do is to do an internet search to see if you can get the Vega shakes cheaper thru another supplier. Maybe you have already done this but product prices can be so different from one place to another. Also, some offer free shipping.

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #434 on: April 04, 2018, 08:26:06 AM »
The only other thing you might do is to do an internet search to see if you can get the Vega shakes cheaper thru another supplier. Maybe you have already done this but product prices can be so different from one place to another. Also, some offer free shipping.

Already done.
Saving over 35% off of the retail price on average. Iíve even tried cheaper alternative brands, but really couldnít stomach them.
Iíve had Vega for breakfast every work morning for over 4 years now, I consider it the cornerstone of my diet and a key factor in losing over 70lbs. Iíve come to just accept it as a lifestyle choice.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #435 on: April 04, 2018, 08:58:15 AM »
How many meals of the Vega shake to you have per day to lose 70 lbs! That is fantastic!

Does it really keep you full? I find within no time I am hungry after drinking a shake. I am hungry a lot and need to lose weight!

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #436 on: April 04, 2018, 10:48:01 AM »
How many meals of the Vega shake to you have per day to lose 70 lbs! That is fantastic!

Does it really keep you full? I find within no time I am hungry after drinking a shake. I am hungry a lot and need to lose weight!

I make it with full fat yogurt and used to make it with milk until this year when I switched to water. I only have it for breakfast. It took about a month to get used to not eating for such long stretches, but after that it was easy. Otherwise it was all just moderate portion control and patience, it took about 4 years.

Note that portion control is also great for the budget, not only because it means buying less food, but also makes it a lot easier to prevent food waste when everything is pre-planned and pre-portioned. 

Laura33

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #437 on: April 04, 2018, 10:52:59 AM »
@Roadrunner53 -- Thanks, you are always so nice and supportive.  I won't bore you with the details, but no, he's not going to cook -- he doesn't cook, enjoys buying whatever he wants, and has no desire to cut back, so putting him in charge of buying and cooking would likely increase our budget.  :-)  My focus is really on what I can control, and on finding a happy medium between frugality as a normal baseline with sufficient splurges/extras that DH and the kids enjoy. 

Which, though, means that I really shouldn't account for all the times when I am out of town and DH gets takeout.  And you know, I started out this way, only "counting" the stuff that I am accountable for.  I think I got away from that in an effort to better track the "real" number, but the reality is that it just makes me feel bad because of things that I can't control, so I think it's better to just go back to my own numbers and leave him to get what he gets.

Of course, that still leaves me on the hook for the $50 in takeout I let DD talk me into last night.  :-)  No time for shopping/cooking this weekend again, so out of my routine and susceptible to the teenage please.  But now DH is out of town, and I can easily scrabble through on leftovers for the rest of the week, so maybe I can count it as a "shopping" trip that just involved pizza and the new Krispy Kreme store.  ;-)

Roadrunner53

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #438 on: April 04, 2018, 01:35:38 PM »
Laura33, What is it your husband craves when he does take out? Is there some specific food he craves? Chinese is one food that I could never master so that would be off my list! Tell us what he likes...maybe some ideas will surface!


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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #439 on: April 04, 2018, 07:02:13 PM »
Laura33, What is it your husband craves when he does take out? Is there some specific food he craves? Chinese is one food that I could never master so that would be off my list! Tell us what he likes...maybe some ideas will surface!

Different.  Just different.  He likes all sorts of ethnicities, and everything from hole-in-the-wall to fine dining.  I am a good cook and have gotten good in some areas and decent in others, but I still canít cook everything from every variety of local ethnic food.  I have some great Chinese recipes, and can make a few Thai options, but am completely SOL on Indian.

FYI if you want an accessible inroad into Asian food, try 101 Easy Asian Recipes - itís by the guys who did Lucky Peach, and the name is tongue-in-cheek, but the recipes really are easy, and the flavors are spot-on and frankly better than most restaurants around here.  My favorite part is where they give you the lists of the various condiments to have on hand, by brand.

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #440 on: April 04, 2018, 07:10:11 PM »
Laura33, What is it your husband craves when he does take out? Is there some specific food he craves? Chinese is one food that I could never master so that would be off my list! Tell us what he likes...maybe some ideas will surface!

Different.  Just different.  He likes all sorts of ethnicities, and everything from hole-in-the-wall to fine dining.  I am a good cook and have gotten good in some areas and decent in others, but I still canít cook everything from every variety of local ethnic food.  I have some great Chinese recipes, and can make a few Thai options, but am completely SOL on Indian.

FYI if you want an accessible inroad into Asian food, try 101 Easy Asian Recipes - itís by the guys who did Lucky Peach, and the name is tongue-in-cheek, but the recipes really are easy, and the flavors are spot-on and frankly better than most restaurants around here.  My favorite part is where they give you the lists of the various condiments to have on hand, by brand.

Jumping in completely out of the blue. Indian is totally doable! I'd say easier than Thai and Chinese in some ways because it is often just a wet braise. The main obstacle is getting the spices in hand. What does he order specifically from Indian menus?

Laura33

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #441 on: April 04, 2018, 08:00:33 PM »
Laura33, What is it your husband craves when he does take out? Is there some specific food he craves? Chinese is one food that I could never master so that would be off my list! Tell us what he likes...maybe some ideas will surface!

Different.  Just different.  He likes all sorts of ethnicities, and everything from hole-in-the-wall to fine dining.  I am a good cook and have gotten good in some areas and decent in others, but I still canít cook everything from every variety of local ethnic food.  I have some great Chinese recipes, and can make a few Thai options, but am completely SOL on Indian.

FYI if you want an accessible inroad into Asian food, try 101 Easy Asian Recipes - itís by the guys who did Lucky Peach, and the name is tongue-in-cheek, but the recipes really are easy, and the flavors are spot-on and frankly better than most restaurants around here.  My favorite part is where they give you the lists of the various condiments to have on hand, by brand.

Jumping in completely out of the blue. Indian is totally doable! I'd say easier than Thai and Chinese in some ways because it is often just a wet braise. The main obstacle is getting the spices in hand. What does he order specifically from Indian menus?

He likes lamb vindaloo or lamb pasanda.  I like chicken tikka or paneer masala or seekh kebab.  And I would love to know how to make ras malai, which is just like manna from heaven to me.  My biggest problem is that I hate the standard curry spice blend - I donít even know which particular spice it is, but there is something in there that I just canít stand, which makes me a little timid to try new recipes since I donít know the flavor profile.

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #442 on: April 04, 2018, 08:04:37 PM »
Jumping in completely out of the blue. Indian is totally doable! I'd say easier than Thai and Chinese in some ways because it is often just a wet braise. The main obstacle is getting the spices in hand. What does he order specifically from Indian menus?

He likes lamb vindaloo or lamb pasanda.  I like chicken tikka or paneer masala or seekh kebab.  And I would love to know how to make ras malai, which is just like manna from heaven to me.  My biggest problem is that I hate the standard curry spice blend - I donít even know which particular spice it is, but there is something in there that I just canít stand, which makes me a little timid to try new recipes since I donít know the flavor profile.

Strokes chin, I see, I see. I'll be back in a bit. Yeah, first thing is you will not use a standard curry mix, you will make your own (and it really won't be that hard).

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #443 on: April 04, 2018, 09:12:37 PM »
OK, Mustachian Indian. I'll be working on this as a project now. I'm not an expert, but I do I cook Indian fairly often.

You probably know that Madhur Jaffrey is a big name in Indian cookbooks. Your library will have one of her many books. I'm also collecting some web recipes and I'm going to try some out and see which do not require a ridiculous investment in spices. The spices are the main obstacle to keeping cost down. Lamb Vindaloo is a good one because it doesn't require that many "strange" spices (being influenced by Portuguese cuisine). Here's an example: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/pork-or-lamb-vindaloo

Another aspect that I would like to test is how a recipe freezes and reheats so you can make extra and have an insta-takeout when DH gets the urge. For example, nan freezes well.

I'm not trying to be insulting by posting links (I am quite aware you know how to Google), but more to show examples. I'm going to also comment on all the "extras" like rice and bread. Ooh, this is a fun challenge. More to come. If I'm not headed in the right direction, just let me know.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #444 on: April 05, 2018, 04:27:17 AM »
Laura33, this is totally our of my league! I can't say I have ever even eaten Indian food except Madras Lentils from Costco. Not sure that is even representative of Indian food! Have not eaten Thai food either. Not that I wouldn't but in my town there are very few ethnic restaurants. Come to think of it, there is a Thai restaurant. Maybe I will have to check it out!

Should be interesting to see what Basenji comes up with!

In the mean time, I found these kits you could buy and whip up.

https://indianmealkit.com/t/meal-kits

https://www.amazon.com/Sukhis-Gourmet-Indian-Foods-Gluten-Free/dp/B00TT65DG2/ref=sr_1_17_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1522923790&sr=8-17&keywords=indian+vindaloo

Well, since I don't have much of a clue, I will leave it at that!

Sometimes you gotta have a little SOUL food to break up the monotony!

Roadrunner53

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #445 on: April 05, 2018, 04:57:39 AM »
Laura33, My brain cells are spinning this morning! This is a new idea I have come up with.

In my town we have a few restaurants (Italian) that advertise that they will cater. In the ad it will show big trays of lasagna or manicotti or stuffed shells. You get the picture. Maybe you could call one of your favorite Indian or other ethnic restaurant and tell them you are having a party and need one big tray of Chicken Tikka and one tray of lamb vindaloo or lamb pasanda. Then when you get it home break it down into normal portions and freeze it. If there are any delicate things they might add, ask them to put them on the side so they don't get mushy. This might not save a ton of money but it might save some and if nothing else, you know what you spent rather than what your hub will spend. Maybe keep a variety of his favorites in the freezer so he can pull that out when the desire strikes. Not sure the quality of frozen ethnic foods but I have pretty good luck with everything else including rice, beans and spaghetti.

Just another hair brained idea of mine!

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #446 on: April 05, 2018, 06:34:07 AM »
Laura33, My brain cells are spinning this morning! This is a new idea I have come up with.

In my town we have a few restaurants (Italian) that advertise that they will cater. In the ad it will show big trays of lasagna or manicotti or stuffed shells. You get the picture. Maybe you could call one of your favorite Indian or other ethnic restaurant and tell them you are having a party and need one big tray of Chicken Tikka and one tray of lamb vindaloo or lamb pasanda. Then when you get it home break it down into normal portions and freeze it. If there are any delicate things they might add, ask them to put them on the side so they don't get mushy. This might not save a ton of money but it might save some and if nothing else, you know what you spent rather than what your hub will spend. Maybe keep a variety of his favorites in the freezer so he can pull that out when the desire strikes. Not sure the quality of frozen ethnic foods but I have pretty good luck with everything else including rice, beans and spaghetti.

Just another hair brained idea of mine!

I love out-of-the-box thinking! I'm going to look at our local Indian take out menu and compare the prices against what someone can do at home.

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #447 on: April 05, 2018, 07:54:37 AM »
@Laura33 - one suggestion I have for the dining out. Do your local restaurants ever offer discounted gift cards? We have one place that is our go to. (It's not even a top favorite of mine, but works well for the kids, & is reasonably priced). When they have discounted gift cards, free meal passes, etc, we stock up. They also have a frequent diner program that sends discounted promotions. We take advantage of that to reduce the cost of eating out. I've come around to accepting that, when I'm traveling for work (8-10 weeks/year), my husband and the kids will eat out at least once, and will eat Costco pizza and the like as well. Planning for this & getting good deals has helped to reduce the outlay.

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #448 on: April 05, 2018, 08:16:08 AM »
Jumping in! Family of 5 who recently switched to Aldi and even more recently quit SAMs club. Due to family visiting last week and our SAMs membership ending, we spent about $400 extra on food / alcohol.

My normal budget is now $400 but I'm going to challenge myself to $350 for April.

So far for April  $20 / 350. Not a wise purchase either (grocery deli take out and a kombucha). Everyone at the house is sick and my DH had surgery so it was kind of necessary. going to Aldi today to pick up the bare basics after I look through our crowded fridge to determine which left overs are still edible. The one upside is that we have chickens and the vast majority of our food waste goes to them, which lowers their feed needs.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Reduce your grocery spend - 2018
« Reply #449 on: April 05, 2018, 08:25:38 AM »
Jumping in! Family of 5 who recently switched to Aldi and even more recently quit SAMs club. Due to family visiting last week and our SAMs membership ending, we spent about $400 extra on food / alcohol.

My normal budget is now $400 but I'm going to challenge myself to $350 for April.

Welcome!

I obviously need to be going shopping with you - my family of 5 budget is $125/week.

Does your number include pet food and household items (toilet paper, etc)?